Being a patient is never something that anyone (not even doctors)  likes to experience. The word patient is derived from the Latin word, “suffer.” All patients walk into the doctor’s office expecting their doctor to bring them out of their suffering.

What makes a doctor, good? Here are a few traits essential to all doctors:

1. Compassion

Compassion is not a virtue that comes packaged with medical training. It’s an innate trait that can be nurtured by emulating caring mentors in medical schools. Some people are innately more compassionate and caring than others. If you are lucky enough to find a caring and compassionate doc, you are in good hands for he/she is sure to take great lengths to get you through your ailment. Studies have found that these values are strongly linked to higher quality of care and better patient outcomes.

2. Competency

Competency includes knowledge and skills to perform the job effectively. Competency comes only from training and experience. For doctors, experience begins with training and starts the moment they enter medical school. Competent doctors are able to interpret the situation in the context that is relevant, especially during emergencies. Staying up to date on the latest research and technology is essential to becoming a great doctor.

3. Bedside Manners

Numerous studies have shown a link between lousy bedside manners and poor medical outcomes. Every patient wants to find a doctor who listens. A doctor can be among the best in his field, but if he/she has poor bedside manners, patients are forced to choose between competency and kindness. Young doctors in training can learn good bedside manner by emulating compassionate physicians.

4. Action Plan

Clarity of thought process and action plan is important in assessing a clinical condition. If your doctor orders a test, he/she must also know how to deal with the results. Having an action plan means that your doctor has control over the situation, whether treating a medical condition or consulting a sub-specialist when he/she is not sure of the treatment options.

Being a good doctor means embodying all the above characteristics. The next time you make a doctor’s visit, evaluate your doctor against this criteria. Is your doctor “good”?